The backs-to-the-wall Brumbies are turning negatives into positives in pursuit of an unlikely third Super Rugby championship.
The Brumbies lost control of their finals fate with Saturday night’s 39-8 drubbing at the hands of the NSW Waratahs, but insist they can still make a push for the title.
The ACT outfit could lose further ground next weekend when they pick up no points for the bye.
But rather than fret over the prospect of relinquishing their place in the top six, last year’s beaten grand finalists are claiming an advantage over their rivals.
“A lot of sides will know they have to win at least five in a row. For us, we have a break now and then we can look to going on a run. I think that will suit us,” said skipper Ben Mowen.
The way Mowen sees it, the Brumbies need to win four games straight to steal the title, starting with a home victory over the Western Force in a fortnight.
With the Force four competition points behind the Brumbies ahead of their hosting of the Queensland Reds on Saturday, the last-round Australian conference showdown in Canberra looms as a potential sudden-death finals qualifier.
“It could be a nice little momentum builder into the finals,” said Brumbies coaching director Laurie Fisher.
“I’m hopeful we’ll be alive going into that last game and I know that this side has got great character.
“We’ve worked hard over the last three years for anything we’ve got, so we’ll continue to do that.”
With 11 players unavailable, including six Wallabies, the Brumbies were unconcerned about their heavy defeat to the table-topping Waratahs, especially after also losing Test centre Tevita Kuridrani to a head knock in the opening minutes.
“When you bring on guys that either haven’t been with us for more than a couple of weeks – and playing non-professional players – it makes it particularly difficult against a side that’s humming along very nicely,” Fisher said.
“(It was) a difficult night but I thought we competed for the most part.”
The Brumbies are confident Wallabies Matt Toomua, Pat McCabe, Joe Tomane and Sam Carter will all be back for the must-win Force clash.
“Obviously our destiny’s not right in our hands, but I see no reason why having a week off, we can’t build some momentum on the training paddock and get some fit bodies back,” Mowen said.
“We can really fly into that last game and, if you have a great performance there, then the finals always give you that little bit of a kick.
“We did it last year. We know what it takes to win on the road – I think in the last couple of years we’ve got a better record away anyway so that’s neither here nor there.
“This group’s pretty excited about what’s coming.”